The following is copied from the International Society of Arboriculture Website at www.isa-arbor.com
Why Hire an Arborist?
An arborist, by definition, is an individual trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. Tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.
What Is a Certified Arborist?
Certified Arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care. Certified Arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification and adhere to a Code of Ethics. Therefore, they are more likely to be up to date on the latest techniques in arboriculture.
Becoming an ISA Certified Arborist is a voluntary process through which individuals can measure their knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care. ISA Certification is not government-sponsored or government-endorsed; it is administered by the International Society of Arboriculture as a way for tree care professionals to demonstrate their commitment to the profession and the industry.
Certification is not a measure of standards of practice. Certification can attest to the tree knowledge of an individual but cannot guarantee or ensure quality performance. H
The remainder of this page is written by M. David Sutton, Board Certified Master Arborist, Cert. No. MI-0610B
How to find a Certified Arborist
You can find a certified arborist by going to the ISA website using the link above or by going directly to the find a tree service page using this link: http://www.isa-arbor.com/faca/findArborist.aspx
From that page you can verify that someone is a certified arborist or find an arborist by Last Name, by Postal Code, by Zip Code or by Certification Number.
Why is it important to hire an arborist and to confirm his or her certification?
Over the past couple of years we have dealt with several issues that may have been avoided if the homeowner or property owner had hired a certified arborist or confirmed certification of someone who was supposedly a certified arborist.
1. On at least three occasions, we have been asked for an opinion on problems that another "certified arborist" had given an opinion on. In each case, further checking proved that the person presenting himself as a certified arborist may have been a certified pesticide applicator, but was not a certified arborist. There is a huge difference. Even someone with limited or no tree knowledge could become a certified pesticide applicator simply by studying a manual for a couple of hours and sitting for the MDA test and passing it with 70% correct answers. To become a certified arborist, a person must possess a detailed knowledge of tree problems and sit for a much more rigorous test, and then maintain up-to-date knowledge through continuing education credits.
2. We have identified dead trees that died because of stem cankers caused by being climbed with climbing spurs, something a certified arborist would not do except on a tree that is to be removed.
3. We have diagnosed Oak Wilt, a lethal fungal infection of oaks. The infection was in oaks that were trimmed in warm weather and climbed with climbing spurs. These practices are avoided by certified arborists because they can attract the vector of oak wilt and thus become the proximate cause of oak wilt infection and oak death. One oak treated improperly can then infect any nearby oaks, thus one poor practice can kill a whole yard full of oak trees.
4. We have consulted on many occasions with people who have received erroneous information about treatment of tree diseases and pests. Frequently the information includes advice to spray trees with the wrong chemical, with the wrong timing, and promising results that are unrealistic.
5. Many of the people we have spoken with assumed that the practitioner was a certified arborist simply because the name of the business included terms like "tree specialist" or "tree expert." Some businesses even include the word "arborist" in their title without having a certified arborist on staff.
6. A certified arborist will carry credentials with him or her. An arborist certification number in Michigan will look like this: MI-1234A or MI-9876B. On the other hand a pesticide certification number will be one letter followed by nine digits like this: C098765432. You have a right to see the credentials and to confirm them.
7. Just being a certified arborist does not guarantee that a practitioner is completely knowledgeable and ethical, but it proves that they have studied trees and know where to find important information.